Herero is a Bantu language (Niger Congo - Benue-Kongo - Bantoid -
Southern - Narrow Bantu - Central), classified according to Guthrie
(1948) as R30. According to Ohly (1999:5) mainly three dialectal
clusters may be discerned: Kaokoland Herero (also: Himba), Central
Herero, and Mahalapye Herero (also: Mbanderu). These languages are
spoken in Namibia (Herero, Himba, Mbanderu), Angola (Himba), and
Botswana (Mbanderu). According to the 2001 census (Republic of Namibia
2003:4) 8 % of Namibias population of 1'830'330 speak Herero at home,
this makes ca 146'400 speakers today .
Other important languages are
English, Afrikaans (both official languages, vehicular, some
mothertongue speakers, especially for Afrikaans), the Wambo dialectal
cluster (ca 50% mothertongue speakers), Nama/Damara, Bushman .
Otjiherero is mainly an ethnic language, i.e. predominantly used in
more or less homogeneous (monolingual) in-group communication among
fellow Ovaherero. Most Herero people speak at least one to three
additional languages, depending on age and region: Afrikaans, English,
Nama/Damara, Ambo or German. In the north Portuguese is used as a
lingua franca in contact with peoples from Angola.
Herero is used in schools as a medium up to Grade 2, after that as a
subject, which can be taken up to University and Ph.D. level.
Otjiherero has a rather low status and is perceived by most people,
including Otjiherero speakers themselves, not to be a language of the
See "Sociolinguistic profile"
 Interestingly, though
Omatjete is located in the Erongo region, the census gives no
Herero-speakers in this region (2003:6). Further, there seems to have
been no explicit language question in this population and housing
census (2003: Appendix 2, p. 91-92). It is therefore unclear where the
above cited information extracted from the census comes from. According
to Möhlig, Marten & Kavari, there are about 141'000 speakers in
Namibia, and another 18'000 in Botswana (Möhlig, Marten & Kavari
2002:13). The Ethnologue (www.ethnologue.com) gives 113'000 in Namibia,
for Botswana and Namibia together 144'000. These numbers are based on
the 1991 census.
 Based on the 1981
census, Ohly gives the following numbers (1987:26f, my compliation):
WWambo 49,1%, Nama/Damara 13%, Afrikaans 11,6%, Kavango (Kwangali,
Gciriku, Mbukushu) 9,3%, Herero 7,4%, German app. 1%, English app.